A young inventor has created a two-wheeler with a twist - the wheels are parallel so the machine looks like a powered unicycle.

Ben Gulak, from Ontario, Canada, is only 18 but has spent several years building the electric Uno that uses a gyroscope - like the Segway commuter device - to stay upright.

The bizarre-looking contraption has only one switch - on or off - and is controlled entirely by body movement. It works like a Segway - lean forward to start moving. Lean left or right to turn and the inside wheel lifts and the outside wheel lowers.

Gulak designed the Uno with the help of Trevor Blackwell, a robotics engineer who specialises in self-balancing software. The control system keeps the rider balanced over the wheels and manages the suspension.

The machine, modified from the frame of a Yamaha R1, weighs 54kg and can be taken indoors and wheeled into lifts. It's recharged by being plugged into the mains.

The wheels are independently controlled, allowing the bike to turn in its own length, and the technology takes the balance and guesswork out of riding a unicycle.

The Uno's two wheelchair motors should give it a top speed of 40km/h but, for safety's sake, Gulak hasn't taken it above 25km/h.

He said: "The only way to figure out if a modification works is to ride the thing. I'm pretty sure I chipped a kneecap in one crash."

It can run for about 2.5 hours on a charge and was designed for inner-city commuting.

Gulak said: "The Uno takes a bit of getting used to because you have to learn to trust it but it doesn't take long."

He's looking for investors to get the Uno into production and on the streets.

"I was inspired to make it after visiting China a few years ago and seeing all the smog," he said. "They ride little bikes that are really polluting and I wanted to make something to combat that.

"Now that I have a prototype the reaction has been amazing. I believe this could be an electric alternative to the car." - Star Motoring